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Youth with ‘reel’ delusion: Addiction and consequences

In recent years, there has been an undeniable surge in the popularity of short videos known as reels across various social media platforms. This phenomenon has captivated the attention of the youth like never before. People of all age groups, including teenagers, adults, and even older individuals, are indulging in this trend of creating digital […]

In recent years, there has been an undeniable surge in the popularity of short videos known as reels across various social media platforms. This phenomenon has captivated the attention of the youth like never before. People of all age groups, including teenagers, adults, and even older individuals, are indulging in this trend of creating digital content through platforms such as reels, YouTube videos, and shorts. Many see it as an easy way to make money and gain fame by becoming influencers and posting engaging content.
While these reels serve as an endless source of entertainment and inspiration for some, concerns have arisen regarding the potential drawbacks associated with excessive consumption. As someone who has long contemplated the implications of youth being engrossed in reels, it is crucial to delve into the negative effects it can have on their physical and mental health, as well as the influence of influencers in shaping their behavior and lifestyle choices.
The excessive engagement with reels can lead to a myriad of negative consequences. One primary concern is its impact on mental health. Psychiatrists and psychologists have observed an increase in stress, depression, and anxiety among the youth due to unrealistic comparisons, feelings of inadequacy, FOMO (fear of missing out), and constant exposure to curated and edited content that often fails to reflect reality and instead creates an illusive dopamine effect.
Furthermore, the sedentary nature of scrolling through reels for hours on end takes a toll on physical health. It contributes to a more sedentary lifestyle, leading to a higher risk of obesity, eye problems, and musculoskeletal disorders. Additionally, addiction to reels can adversely affect sleep patterns, concentration levels, and overall productivity, hindering personal growth and development.
Health coaches and experts have expressed their concerns in this context. Dr. Jane Allen, a renowned clinical psychologist from Saint Louis, highlights how constant exposure to reels can distort the perception of reality and self-image. It creates an unrealistic standard of beauty, success, and happiness, which often triggers feelings of dissatisfaction and anxiety among the youth.
The rise of numerous influencers has overshadowed the minds and hearts of the youth. Many young individuals idolize these influencers and daydream about instant success, unaware of the effort and hard work that goes behind the scenes. Influencers often project a deceptive and romanticized picture of life, triggering concerns about where this trend is leading the current generation. Some argue that the emphasis on quick and easy money-making goes against the values of hard work and the long path to success, typically achieved through perseverance and persistent efforts.
Another area of concern is the impact of reels on education. This year, there has been a noticeable decrease in the number of students scoring above 90% in the 10th CBSE board exams compared to the previous years. Similarly, in the 12th CBSE board exams, there has also been a decline in the number of students scoring above 95%. The decrease is projected to be around 2% compared to 2020. With many other factors, addiction of watching reels all the time and neglecting studies is also one of the reason.
There is a worry that individuals, including children and their parents, are diverting their attention away from academics in pursuit of social media success and the monetization of video content. Everyone wants to make easy money through YouTube channels and reels. One escalating influencer interviewed shared a message for teens, emphasizing the importance of focusing on education alongside aspirations of becoming successful influencers. Success requires hard work, perseverance, and patience, and shortcuts are not meant for everyone.
Even many believers of old school dislike the representation of women and girls in these videos with vulgar dance moves and all ‘latka-jhatka’ and ‘thumkas’. Some argue that the portrayal of women flaunting “sexy” attributes and engaging in provocative dance moves may be concerning, as it can potentially stimulus folks in wrong directions and shape their ideals of femininity and role models leading them towards more crime in the society.
I recently witnessed an enchanting matrimonial ceremony that left me utterly fascinated, for amidst the revelry and merriment, my eyes chanced upon a wondrous sight: a mere babe, barely beginning to explore the world, delicately feasting on victuals while engrossed in the captivating reels of Instagram. Earlier nursery rhymes used to be shown while feeding bairns that was still somehow had some educational and moral values.
Despite the critics, the significant demand for this type of content among the general public suggests that not everyone disapproves of this trend. Homemakers like Rohini Bansal and Shruti Tiwari from Jaipur have embraced this digital era and shifted their perspective towards life and enjoyment. They prioritize spending time indulging in web series and Instagram reels, revealing a shift in focus from responsibilities to pleasure and leisure activities.
In a rapidly moving world, these lighthearted forms of entertainment act as a means of escaping reality and providing individuals with moments of joy and relief. The word ‘entertainment’ reminds me lines spoken by veteran actress Vidya Balan in the movie ‘The Dirty Picture’..entertainment..entertainment...entertainment..yhi chalta hai.. yhi bikta hai.
The pandemic has also played a role in changing mindsets. The fear of death has prompted individuals to reevaluate their priorities and desire to live in the present, making the most out of every moment. Humorous skits, engaging videos, and relatable reels provide moments of joy and relief, allowing people to temporarily forget about daily struggles and anxieties.
In the digital age, influencers hold great sway over the youth, shaping their lifestyle choices, consumption patterns, and even career decisions. Responsible influencers have the power to inspire positive behavior change, while others mislead impressionable minds with sponsored content promoting unattainable ideals. Katie Thompson, an influencer advocating mental health awareness, emphasizes the importance of showcasing reality and presenting authentic experiences to create a safe space for followers.
It is still unclear how this craze is impacting Indian society and its future. Whether it is degrading or uplifting our culture, spoiling or building the future of the country, remains a question that needs to be fully understood.
The balance between creativity, self-expression, quality education, and traditional values is crucial for the well-rounded development of youth and the nation as a whole. Instead of completely disregarding the benefits of reels, it is important to find a balance. Setting limits on screen time, curating social media feeds with diverse content, and encouraging responsible use can help mitigate the risks associated with excessive reel consumption. By promoting the authenticity of influencers and creating a positive online environment, society can support the personal growth and well-being of the youth.
The rising popularity of reels has had a significant impact on youth, society and nation at large. While it offers entertainment and inspiration, it also carries potential risks of spoiling young generation that must be addressed. By acknowledging the negative consequences, encouraging responsible use, and fostering a supportive online environment, we can ensure the well-being and development of the youngsters.

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